Creating a Universal Male Symbol in Adobe Illustrator (No Drawing or Tracing Required)

You've seen them everywhere: those recognizable shapes that tell you which restroom to use. Even here in devil-may-care dekeOpolis we like to know which door is which. The average mortal might try to draw them in Illustrator by tracing one of the ubiquitous images on the web or building them up with shapes. But leave it to our own man Deke to figure out how to create this universal Gent (and on Wednesday, his Lady) using nothing but carefully engineered strokes applied to a single line segment.Yep, no drawing required here, the only real skill you'll need is the ability to enter numbers into the Transform Effect dialog box. Well, actually, about 13 Transform Effect dialog boxes. But the result will turn a simple unassuming line segment into a universally recognizable man. Read on to see how it's done: Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 104: Crafting an Infinity Symbol to Match a Font in Illustrator

Deke's Techniques 104: Drawing Infinity with Illustrator's Width Tool

As I write this, I have newly returned from a ski weekend in Keystone, CO. My youngest, Sam, got barf-all-over-the-place sick and had to go home. Which really sucked. But fortunately my eldest, Max, and I missed the bug and therefore went on to have a terrific adventure. Today in particular was outstanding. We woke up, watched cartoons for two hours (in discussing why Scooby-Doo still sucks, Max assured me they're trying to keep it consistent with the old days), and hit the slopes just a short walk from our rented condo. I let him lead while I captured our antics with my hand-held GoPro. I reckon most of the footage would be boring to anyone but us---altho I did wipe out in a hilarious 1080-degree freefall because I was paying too much attention to the camera---but wow it was fun.

On the way home, Max and I discussed whether an insanely large cargo plane could carry smaller airplanes, the latter of which might subsequently take off from the innards of the former. As the rational father, I naturally argued "no, that's insane, you silly child." But Max had me really believing "maybe" over the course of two grueling hours because, seriously, the kid is relentless and we had nothing better to do.

Which takes me to this week's technique: Infinity. Life-wise, infinity reminds me of how much I love my boys. (I know it's cornball. But I'm feeling it so shut up.) Video-wise, infinity is a symbol. One that's missing from just about every font on the market. So what do you do when you're thinking infinity (like me) but you can't make infinity (like right now here like me)? Answer: Draw it with the Width tool in Illustrator.

Here's the official description from Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 103: Creating a Custom, Entirely Accurate New Year's 2013 Calendar in Illustrator

Deke's Techniques 103: Creating a Custom 2013 Calendar in Illustrator

Well gang, it's been a couple of weeks since I last talked to you. But I have to admit, I enjoyed the break. My youngest son, the aspiring actor, rocked it in a play called Rose Red. (Delivered to the eponymous character, his line "Gadzooks! You are a wild youth!" brought down the house.) My eldest, the occasional musician, sailed through his piano recital with a breathtakingly perfect rendition of Beethoven's "Für Elise." (Which is somewhat amazing considering how much it sounds like a baseball bat hitting a squeezebox in the back alley of a pachinko parlor during practice time.) Plus, we celebrated the rare white Christmas, which is always a nice touch.

I could go on: My boys and I played games, read books, saw movies, entertained endless ideas, hung après-Xmas lights, clobbered each other, and spent what seemed like a year full of days in a sometimes peaceful, sometimes chaotic realm of imaginative mayhem. Honestly, if I were asked to replay a handful of days for the rest of eternity, I would respectfully decline. But if, you know, some big scary dude got all muscly and made me, these last days would be them.

The upshot is that I return to you in 2013 much as I left you at the beginning of 2012, restored and ready for more. Today, in fact---this very day---I suddenly reappear to show you how to construct a single-artboard, resolution-independent 2013 calendar for the new year. All inside that surge protector of smooth-line vectors, Adobe Illustrator.

Here's the official description from Read more » 

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Illustrator One-on-One CS6: Advanced Is Now Out at

Oh goodness gravy, I have been remiss. Last Thursday, my newest video course, Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced, hit the virtual shelves of the Online Training Library. And it's been the talk of the town. If you imagine this site is the town. And I'm the only one talking. But it's been popular so perhaps you'll want to listen up, even if I'm just yackin' up my own junk.

The course is 11 hours and 2 minutes long. Exactly 6 minutes shorter than my previous course, Illustrator CS6 One-on-One; Intermediate. Which makes it precisely 0.6% more powerful. (I did the math!) Please allow me to share my favorite three sample files from this inspiring and ultra-long but ultra-inspiring course.

Starting with, are you familiar with the concept of color harmonies? They play an essential role in the behavior of the exceedingly useful Color Guide panel and Recolor Artwork command. If this is news to you, check out Chapter 25, "The Color Guide Panel." Specifically the movie called "The 23 color harmony rules, diagrammed." In which I show you how each of the color harmonies works, in a real Lab color wheel so you can't help but understand, as pictured below:

Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced, Chapter 25, "The Color Guide Panels" Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 102: Creating a Hobbit Movie Logo Effect in Adobe AI and Photoshop

Deke's Techniques 102: Creating a Hobbit Movie Logo Effect in Illustrator and Photoshop

This week's installment of Deke's Techniques shows how to create type that looks just like the logo for The Hobbit movie poster. Which is an insanely great effect.

As many of you know, Peter Jackson and company decided to divide The Hobbit---a 310-page book---into three movies. At the beginning of my video (the one above), I joke that the first movie (An Unexpected Journey) covers the first 36 pages of the book. Today, I took my boys to see the movie. And, as it turns out, I wasn't joking!

I timed it: The movie doesn't get to the beginning of the book, The Hobbit, until 37 minutes in! And it takes another 15 minutes (or thereabout, didn't time it) to cover the first page of the damn thing. After that, we discover that Thorin (the lead dwarf) hates elves, a wizard named Radagast the Brown rides on a sleigh pulled by bunnies, Saruman has something to do with this story, Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen can speak to each other telekinetically, Bilbo (with no prior knowledge of swordsmanship) slays orcs and goblins (who attack ad nauseum and at various sizes), there are Stone Giants (why?), and Bilbo is tempted to kill Golum but he manages to trick a trio of trolls instead. None of which happens in the book! The movie is mildly entertaining (I got up and ordered popcorn at one point b/c I was so bored, after which I fell asleep twice), but it has Precious little to do with The Hobbit.

So here's my advice: Wait for the Blu-ray. And if you're making a movie based on a popular children's novel, diverge from it as much as possible and milk it for all you're worth.

Meanwhile, if you want to make your type look like The Hobbit movie logo (which is awesomely cool!), watch my video. Here's the official description from Read more » 

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